When Disaster Strikes
First and foremost, protect your data. There isn’t an insurance policy in the world that can replace your companies’ vital records.
If you have not established a solid process of data backup, do it today. You have no excuse if disaster of any kind strikes and wipes out your network. With so many options available in the cloud and offsite storage you would be derelict in your duty and responsible for piecing together contacts, order history, accounts receivable and payable, and other important information from other sources.
Reaction to Disaster
Immediately engage your insurance representative to determine what is covered and to what extent. In almost every circumstance you will be faced with rather large rebuilding decisions that need to be resolved as soon as practical. Following the insurance conversation, determining your ability to stay in your facility will be paramount. You next chore will be to find a temporary space for the business and your staff if your building or offices are uninhabitable. Make a list of the minimum operational systems and support that will be necessary to get the company back on its feet. The pressure will be significant and the stress level very high, take a deep breath. You know the business inside and out and will get through the turmoil. It may take some time but hang in there.
Gather your people. Don’t sugar coat the situation and be honest with them. They will be very anxious about their jobs. You will need the core people to put the pieces back together. If layoffs are an absolute necessity tell the departing workers approximately how long the layoff will last. Of course, you don’t have a crystal ball and many things will be out of your control working with suppliers and vendors, but if you think it will be a week, a month or longer say so, they deserve your honesty.
If you can retrieve your data and identify the orders that were in-house contact the customers ASAP and inform them of the situation. Your good long-term clients count on you, so you may be in a position where you have to work with a competitor to keep your clients whole. A tough pill, but you will be rewarded by very grateful buyers. It is not the problem but the solution that is remembered.
Have a Plan
It goes without saying that having a disaster plan will make the rebuilding process easier. Truthfully how many businesses have a detailed plan outlining if X happens, do Y? Not many. If you are unfortunate and have to go through a business disruption or disaster, keep track of the process. It will be your disaster plan going forward, should you ever need it.
Throw a Party
When the dust settles, and you have returned to what looks like your operation once again, throw a party. You will have many people to thank for getting you through the rebuilding process. Recognizing your staff, employees, vendors, and suppliers who were there for you deserve a heartfelt thank you. Business as usual is a blessing after a major disruption. Be thankful and pass that along. Whether it is a breakfast, lunch or dinner event, do it. I guarantee there will be hugs and handshakes packed with sincerity, camaraderie, and maybe even some tears of joy.